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Perspective: First Data to Deploy Next-Generation IVR Technology

Everyone with a phone is familiar with hearing the sometimes friendly, sometimes robotic voice at the end of the line asking us to “press one or two” to check an account balance or make a payment. But beyond that, few of us understand Interactive Voice Response (IVR) or what an important customer service tool it is for businesses.

If that describes you, then here’s what you need to know: IVR is an automated telephony system that interacts with callers, gathers information and routes calls to the appropriate person, if necessary. This important self-service tool allows callers to quickly and efficiently get questions answered or complete everyday activities like activating credit cards, checking account balances, or making payments. For our clients, IVR helps reduce costs, improve call center operations, gather customer feedback and most importantly increase customer satisfaction.

First Data has provided its clients with IVR solutions for more than 25 years. Currently, we process on average 300 million calls and more than half a billion minutes of interaction each year for hundreds of clients – merchants, financial institutions, consumer electronics companies and global insurance providers among them. And now that clients and their customers expect to conduct commerce anytime, anywhere and on any device, we feel that supporting technology like IVR should evolve as well.

First Data has deployed a next-generation IVR platform that takes advantage of the latest technology. We are in the process of moving our existing client applications to this new platform.

Some new features our clients will be able to add to their applications in the future include:

  • Speech recognition enhancements
  • Premium reporting and analytics
  • Improved authentication methods such as voice biometrics, geo-location, automatic number identification (ANI) spoof detection
  • Integrated customer experience, combining inbound and outbound IVR with text messaging, email, instant messaging, video, mobile and web solutions

As always, First Data will continue to seek ways to streamline and personalize the customer experience. Integration with other First Data and client products will create opportunities to further enhance the customer experience. Information about a customer’s past behavior and recent activity stored on First Data or client systems will allow the IVR to anticipate customer needs and offer options tailored for that customer.

Stay tuned for more information in the months ahead.

Robb Denholm is director of IVR products at First Data.

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